Cristiano Ronaldo was sent off as Real Madrid drew 1-1 at Athletic Bilbao and missed the chance to leapfrog Barcelona into second place in La Liga.
The 2013 Ballon d'Or winner was shown a straight red after raising a hand to the face of Bilbao's Carlos Gurpegi in the 75th minute. Gurpegi pushed Ronaldo in the chest to spark the reaction, though many will suggest the whole affair was no more than handbags:
That said, Ronaldo's frustration was clear and his actions will be read as proof that Madrid came up short against Bilbao.
Marcelo: "The sending off was unfair. I'm not going to speak here about what happened."— Inside La Liga (@InsideLaLiga) February 2, 2014
A tight and tetchy contest went to the break goalless, as Bilbao pressed Madrid at every opportunity and denied the visitors the kind of attacking freedom Ronaldo and Co. so relish.
Ronaldo came closest to a first-half goal for Madrid in the early exchanges, when Bilbao goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz's mis-kick reached him and he blazed a shot just wide.
The home side had a couple of fine chances to take the lead themselves. Iker Muniain and Aritz Aduriz both had good opportunities, but neither could find the composure to put Bilbao ahead.
The second half brought an early chance for Madrid's Karim Benzema, but Iraizoz was on hand to deny the French international.
And then, in the 65th minute, Madrid broke through. Ronaldo, inevitably, was involved—setting up Jese Rodriguez to score and break Bilbao's resistance.
The home side responded well and were level within 10 minutes courtesy of a fine strike from substitute Ibai Gomez.
Ronaldo sent off, Madrid concede for first time in 9 and draw 1-1 in Bilbao. Barça lose & Atletico win 4-0 to go 3 pts clear. Ace title race— Andy Mitten (@AndyMitten) February 2, 2014
Ronaldo was sent off soon after, but Bilbao were unable to capitalise on their one-man advantage to achieve a famous victory against Madrid.
The draw ended a run of five straight La Liga wins for Real Madrid and came on the same weekend Barcelona were beaten at home by Valencia.
Real are now three points adrift of city rivals Atletico, who they face in the Copa Del Rey on Wednesday, and their next league challenge will see them face Villarreal at home next Saturday.
Atletico Madird topped the table with a 4-0 victory over Real Sociedad.